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Michael Gillette & Mark Updegrove Education. (2012) 'Indomitable Will LBJ in the Presidency,' 'Lady Bird Johnson An Oral History.' New.

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Mrs. Johnson 19, Lyndon Johnson 14, Us 10, Johnson 8, Ladybird Johnson 7, Walter Jenkins 6, Lbj 4, Mrs. Kennedy 4, Austin 4, Los Angeles 4, America 3, Ladybird 3, United States 3, Jacqueline Kennedy 3, Soviet Union 2, Washington 2, Iraq 2, China 2, Russia 2, Harry Middleton 2,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Michael Gillette & Mark Updegrove  Education.  (2012)  
   'Indomitable Will LBJ in the Presidency,' 'Lady Bird Johnson An...  

    November 4, 2012
    8:00 - 9:00am EST  

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>> hi. welcome to the texas book festival panel on ladybird and london. my name is carol dawson. i love being a moderator. every year at the texas book festival, and particularly love this task this year because i have had the privilege of reading two books that interlock so beautifully that it provided one hold 360-degree experience in reading them. before we begin, and i introduce our authors, i want to remind you all that all proceeds of book sales at the texas book festival goats the libraries of
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this great state. so, please avail yourself of the book tent and after a recession is over the book signing tents where you can get both of the signatures of these two wonderful gentleman on the front pieces of your books. now, our panel today, as you know, is about ladybird johnson, an oral history, and it involves a total of 18 years' worth of interviews with ladybird johnson . and indomitable will come lbj in the presidency, the interesting thing about these books is that ladybird memories and history leading up to the presidency, and where it leaves off mark up digress book about lbj begins, and it is a tapestry of voices
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commenting about lyndon b. johnson. michael gillett who assembled ladybird sorrell history directed the lbj library oral history program from 1976-1991. he later served as director of the center for legislative archives at the national archives and is currently the executive director of humanities texas in austin. he is the author of launching the war on poverty, an oral history. to my right mark of the growth is the current director of the lyndon baines johnson presidential library and museum in austin, texas. a post he assumed in october of 2009. an award winning author and presidential historian, he has written three books relating to the american presidency, indomitable will lbj in the presidency was published by crown in march of 2012.
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baptism by fire, a presidency took office in times of crisis in 2009 and second act, presidential lives and legacies after the white house. he spent much of his career at time magazine, first as president of time canada and toronto and then as los angeles manager. he has also been a publisher of newsweek magazine and the vice-president of sales, marketing, and operations for yahoo canada, so he is obviously covering the digital ground as well as the historical and archival ground. welcome to you both. thank you both for these marvelous books. i have had such a good time reading them. and reading the overlaps and the discrepancies. the first thing i want to bring up actually is a very interesting discrepancy between the two. these two people who came together in marriage ladybird
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johnson and lyndon johnson incredibly different personalities. i'm sure most, if not all of you are familiar with the idiosyncrasies and a famous legends about lbj, shall we say, iran stability, crudeness, larger-than-life personality, contradictory nature, and absolute will to get things done and the things he got done were very important things. he could not have done these things, it is my belief, especially after reading these books, without ladybird. ladybird johnson, born claudia taylor was an incredibly gracious southern woman who grew up in a semi tomboyish practices
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and the surroundings very near catholic in far east texas in karnak. the fact that she grew up in a town named after a famous egyptian temple, i have always found very interesting. not far from milesian fields, by the way. but she grew up isolated. lbj grew up very much a part of a community, but in a very different part of texas. when they came together they formed a balance that i think is one of the most interesting marital histories in the history of political america. the one thing that i want to employ of really quickly is how ladybird got her neck and. how many of you have heard the story that she was named by her african american nurse when she was about two years old because she was as pretty as a ladybird. please raise your hands.
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this is what mr. up the growth tells us in his book, but mike gillette has something else to tell us entirely, and i'm going to let him tell us. his particular story of how that came to be. >> well, she told me that the name was actually given to her by her to african american playmates, stuff and doodlebug. and, of course, ladybird is another word for lady bug. apparently it was decided later at some point that it needed the name -- the name needed to be attributed to her adult nurse because to do otherwise might give the indication of social interaction between the races, but -- and i have never read
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that anywhere else, but that is what she told me anyway. taken for what it's worth. >> isn't that fascinating? it's like the precursor to the civil rights act. >> this conversation is taking a nasty turn since i found out i got my tac -- facts wrong. [laughter] >> you know, you got so many other facts right in your book, i don't think you need to worry. i would like you each to talk a little bit, starting with you, marc, about the different facets and aspects of the personalities to which you were privy, in particular in your case lbj and some of the dynamics and contradictions in lbj is personality as reflected by the many voices that you have included in this book. >> well, i'm looking at in the audience. many technology to people, one of whom is harry middleton. terry was the first director of the lbj library, my predecessor, my dear friend, and so much of
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the scholarship about ladybird johnson comes from the work that harry did in the lbj library. the other one sitting next to him is surely a chance to work for mrs. johnson for many years into recently prevailed with the united states post office in getting a postage stamp in honors of ladybird johnson. [applause] a friend of mine and harry's ensure lease was a speechwriter like kerrey for lyndon johnson, and i think he put it very aptly when he said, allowing for shades of subtlety there were many lbj is as there were people who knew him, and as often as not people they saw or contradictory. and i think that says so much about lbj. he treated everybody differently because i think as hubert humphrey called him, the world's best psychologist, he understood how to get people who mattered
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to say yes, and that meant treating people in very different place. so that is why i think that one of the reasons that people saw him so differently from person to person. >> thank you. mike, would you please talk a little bit about what you discovered about ladybird personality through your many interviews with her and the interviews that you read that she had given? >> well, i remember at one. when i was directing the oral history program under harry middleton's lead, might add, for 20 years, we had a contract transcription service come in and transcribe maybe 500 interviews that had never been transcribed under the project that you tea had done that we inherited. and i asked the test crabbers when they finished that project what that take away for them
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once, and it was hell much they came to admire mrs. johnson, just from hearing what other said about her. and so that is one level. the other level is that when you meet her you discover that she is just as warm and gracious to a government employee as she would be to laurence rockefeller in her home. she was really a wonderful hostess, and she treated everyone with such warmth and kindness, and that was particularly valuable when her husband was as volatile and demanding as he was. she could soften the lbj treatment and nullify the people that he had irritated pipit. >> i think they were utterly symbiotic. a perfect partnership, and i think per refines charms, her smooth to his rough edges. calling his frequent storms, and
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i think they both gave each other something. i think she gave him solace in so many ways. very tempestuous personality. i think she sues stamp in so many ways. and i think he, by her own account, sort of allowed her to reach beyond her own dissidents, natural any dissidents and to become in her words more than she would have been. >> that certainly is the impression that i have gathered from both books. as she herself put it, we were better together than we would have been, and the implication is as individuals apart. one of the things that impressed me mike in your book was when she said to lbj about his temper and his moodiness and when he became angry, she said you can go in that room and be quiet by yourself and raise cain to
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yourself. you can raise cain with me and i won't let myself be hurt by it. you know, that is a remarkable offering for a woman to make in order to not only assist her husband, but a sister country because she was up buffer between him and his extremes and the other people that he worked with and the rest of the world. another aspect, though, that you commented to me about that comes through so strongly in this oral history is her sense of humor. would you talk a little bit about that and give us a good example? >> well, she did have a good sense of humor, and she was often the butt of her stories. she had a wonderful sense of humor in telling stories on herself, less so lbj, but, you know, in that wonderful southern accent, i have a couple of excerpts that i can play in a moment that would give you a sense of her sense of humor, her
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mimicry, if you will. lbj was a famous mimic, as we all know, but you will hear an example of mrs. johnson altering her voice to mimic an old lady. so -- >> can you please give us a really good cleaned up version of lbj sense of humor? and i don't mean what he said ted john kenneth dale about economic speeches. [laughter] hilarious. >> you know, he was a great storyteller, and he was a great joke teller. one of my favorite jokes that he has told was about the school teacher in desperate need of a job during the great depression. his little town of johnson, texas. there is an opening, and the school board meets with the school teacher. they asked him, well, do you teach that the world is round or flat? the poor fellow needed a job so bad he said, i can teach it either way. [laughter]
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i always thought that was interesting because if you look at lbj as an historian you can teach him either way. he is so vast, the personality that you can look at him in so many different ways. i think that joe, for me, has a certain resonance. >> mrs. johnson describes the trip there she took to china to me, and on that trip she had a rare delicacy of a thousand year old egg. and her comment was, i like them not more than two weeks of myself. [laughter] >> well, another good example, i think, of lbj humor was when he was talking about how back in johnson city the old timer setting aside and played dominoes and one of them says to another, yes, he sure comes up in the world. ..
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and believes that they had in common. and there were three in particular that i want to ask you all to tell us about and describe. one of them is the level of loyalty both these people felt towards everybody who would ever help them and everybody who had been part of their extended political, as well as, blood family. lbj once said the most important political principles in order of importance are: loyalty loyalty loyalty loyalty loyalty loyalty, courage and compassion or the other two qualities that i think cemented the bond between these people because they knew they
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could trust each other absolutely in these areas.etweee people. because they knew that they could trust each other absolutely in these areas. mike, would you talk a little bit about transcends courage and give us a good example of that? >> welcome i suppose the best example is in october of 1968. she and lyndon johnson were leaving the baker hotel in dallas, walking across the street to an event at the adolphus hotel. focusing on well-to-do women who were therefore a event. they carried what mrs. johnson described in her oral history is a sea of angry slogans. she says that they did not like lbj and they hated kennedy.
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and this mom essentially blocked the passage. it made a very different and difficult for them to get through. and you have to realize the potential for some sort of mob action. she described it as just an animal like tense atmosphere where the slightest thing could trigger a riot. at one point, one of the signs not mrs. johnson's hat off. lbj recognized that she wasn't going as fast as she should have. but they were making the most of this event for television. it would display the behavior of his opponents.
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so that is certainly an example of courage. >> also on the lady bird special. when she toured the south after she signed the civil rights act, which i'm going ask mark to talk about. can you please tell all of us what his response to russell was when he was pushing the acts through? >> you mentioned loyalty and compassion and courage. this story merges all three of those qualities and exemplifies we're lyndon johnson stood off. it was 1964. john f. kennedy had been assassinated, the civil rights act of 1963, which essentially would rid the south of all jim crow laws that were oppressing people of color. that became the civil rights act of 1964.
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lyndon johnson was very much in support of that act. he had been opposed to some civil rights legislation early in his life when he was the representative here in texas. but as he said very pointedly, when he became president in the well-known speech, now that i have the power, i need to use it. never expected to be the president of the united states. he has to realize he's going to run over a lot of the senators and a lot of the representatives with whom he worked when he was in the house and senate. one of them was richard russell. his friend and mentor. a giant senator from the state of georgia who vehemently opposed the civil rights act of 1964. he knows he's going to have run over him to get this passed. and they have a very somber conversation. russell says lbj, you know, you
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can pass the sack. you have the legislative ability to do it. jack kennedy in, but you do. but i'm warning you, if you do, you will lose the democratic party to the south. you may well lose the presidency in the election of 1964. johnson listens to this, and he says very somberly, dick, if that is the price for the spell, i will gladly pay it. a remarkable story of hers. if i may just help one more quick story about his loyalty. as harry knows, he was fiercely loyal to those who worked with him. when the staff was leaving the white house in 1959 and they were going back and finding jobs, lbj wanted to make sure that everybody landed in a good job.
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transitioning with good prospects. there was one guy who worked as a legal counsel for lbj. he signed out of the white house in order to go to los angeles to talk about starting a washington office for this prosperous firm. the new that he had signed out in order to take this interview. going to los angeles, he meets with the partners of this law firm in a conference room and they are all hundred together. they are very frustrated and one partner says, okay, you take a call from the president. they all leave and pearson gets on the phone. and he says, i don't know if you
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noticed, but i signed out of the white house and i'm in los angeles. lbj said, yeah, i know that. and he says, mr. president, what can i do for your? and he said oh, nothing for my supper call it help. [applause] [laughter] >> i love that story. i really love that story. there was another example of loyalty in the books, in both books that have to do with the necessary resignation of walter jenkins during the scandal that burst upon the administration. that occurred with a long-term loyal message. he may as well have been a member of the family of ale bj's and administration.
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one time i was just electrified because it is such a beautiful handling of the situation that ladybird did with lyndon johnson but acknowledged his prerogatives and power. out of their deep compassion about walter jenkins that led to her actually, quietly informing him in a subtle way he was going to be defying him. defying the instructions in terms of a vocal public support for walter jenkins. would you like to talk about a little bit? >> yes, i would. this is, perhaps, the best telephone conversation between the president and mrs. johnson in the recordings. walter jenkins has been arrested on homosexual accusation during
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the 1964 campaign. i think it is october. president johnson is concerned that if he or mrs. johnson will make a statement support of jenkins, a double dragon presidency, and that will inflate the problem even more. mrs. johnson is thinking first about the loyalty to walter jenkins and his family. reaching out to him with a statement of support. and she essentially says, is carol has indicated, i know you can't do it, lyndon, but i am going to make a statement. she just goes ahead and does it. it is a very well worded and thoughtful statement. she backed it up with years of friendship with walter jenkins. >> is a very moving story. that story alone is who was reading both of these books for. i think. this was one of the most
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productive presidential terms in the history of this country. it is amazing how many bills got passed under lbj. that, again, was the product of this symbiosis between the two. i have a long list here of the accomplishment of that administration, and i would rather ask mark to please designate as many of the acts that he signed them what they meant meant as a great society and civil rights act, voters rights act and we haven't even begun to get close to vietnam. i would like to ask mike to talk about ladybird's contributions to the country, not as separate, but certainly, her own project. >> the most fruitful year of lbj's presidency was 1965. i have in my office at the lbj
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library, a shadow box of lpg used to sign the bills into law during that year. the elementary and secondary education and higher education act, which is a profusion of federal money that is going into education. you see high school graduations. enrollment of college rise, dramatically as a result of this. 60% of all student loans today are derived not higher education. the same year, medicare, the arts and humanities act, which creates the national endowment for the arts. the clean air act. the most important civil rights act in our history. it gives people of color power of the ballot and the immigration act, which opens the gates and our borders people all
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over the world and fundamentally changes the face and heart of america. this is in one single year. i will tell you is a presidential historian. there are those that would stake their entire domestic reputations on this one of those laws. lbj did all those things in one single year. in 1965. [applause] >> reading these books, reading both of these books, i was struck with such awe and admiration of these people. even with all of those lbj's foibles, which many of us are familiar with. i am a true believer for evermore afterwards. mike, would you talk a little bit about what ladybird accomplished? >> after her first accomplishment was to keep lyndon johnson thing while he was doing all of those great
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things. giving him a safe haven, if you will, an island of peace, as she described it, every day when he was exerting a tremendous effort. in addition to that, she finished jacqueline kennedy's effort to acquire arts for the white house. she lost the committee for the more beautiful capital. beautify washington dc and make it a showplace so that the tourists there and see what could be done in their own hometown. she gave a the head start program the benefit of the white house lawn so that it was elevated to insignificance and became a very important program almost overnight or sponsorship. she launched the environmental movement, if you will, from the white house. the air quality act. the water quality act.
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in her travels, demonstrated the need for control of air pollution and water pollution. she had an initiative to promote cultural heritage tourism and travel all over the country, showing her the benefit of television, the beauty of this country. she also promoted health legislation with florence mahoney, the cancer stroke movement. she is very supportive of the creation of the endowments for the arts and humanities and the acquisition of the first-run museum. the addition of 35 new national parks, many of which she visited herself. the interesting thing is that
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this legacy continues in retirement, as we all know here in austin, texas, with what she has done the beautification of this city and her efforts there. and also, what she has done for history by recording 47 oral history interviews, and she was one of the major forces in the organization and development of the lbj library. that is quite a legacy. >> i will tell you what, these people were nothing if not thorough. [cheers] [applause] >> speaking of the symbiosis of their relationship, i love .. the fact that the various people in your book talk about many of the informal places where lbj would actually hold some of his conferences.
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i am not going to focus on some of the ones to do with plumbing systems, but i'm going to talk a little bit, for instance, about richard nixon's experience of a meeting between the two of them. can you please describe that? >> only time that lbj was not doing business is when he was unconscious. he was probably dreaming about business at that time. [laughter] actually, the historian described him as always on the move. he was always doing things. even when he took a nap in the white house, which he did daily, it just turned into a horizontal working section. he worked when he was in his bedroom. he worked when he was in his pool. he worked when he was on the ranch. he was always working and doing things. seventy-two phone lines were installed at the ranch. so wherever he was, he could get on the phone and do business.
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carol mentioned plumbing systems. there is a rumor that lbj did business when he was on the toilet. well, that is actually true, he did it. [laughter] there is one person who was in the white house who was part of the white house council in lbj's later years, and he talked of going into the bedroom from which he did every day to greet the president. he heard a voice in the background and he said larry, come on in here. [laughter] larry came in king and then there was the president on the toilet. [laughter] and larry said, you know, i just thought that was a little demeaning. then he goes up the next day. and again, the president was in the bathroom. but he goes in there and he sees mcnamara and dean on the ground, looking at a map of vietnam talk about the war. larry said, well, if they can do it, i can do it, too. [laughter] and there is in that image a
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certain crudity. but lbj just did not have any downtime. it was not meant to be demeaning, but he just never shut it off. [laughter] >> the story to which i was referring, talk about crossing the aisle. richard nixon had been called into a conference in lbj's bedroom. lbj was in bed in his pajamas. halfway through the conference, ladybird comes walking and in her dressing gown, greets nixon and they continue the conference from there. >> it had been particularly uncomfortable for tricky dick. >> and then there are the many late-night phone calls from lbj to various people of his staffers my favorite being the one where he calls in and says, are you asleep?
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>> yes, there is a congressman who said, you know, he would call people at all hours. >> 3330 in the morning. these lawmakers went out and there was one lawmaker called at 230 in the morning and he said, i'm sorry, did i wake you? and he said no, i was hoping you would call. i was sitting here hoping you would call. [laughter] remap all right. it is a great story. these books are so full of great stories. truly, it makes for some of the liveliest reading and some of the most intimate reading that i have had the chance to perceive in a long time. i was just delighted to get to moderate the panel. >> i have a story, carol, that really highlights the differences between president and mrs. johnson. this is a story from 1942 areas
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the johnsons are still living in their apartment. they have not bought a home yet. and john calmly is working there with lbj and he notices an ad in the newspaper to elderly women are breaking up housekeeping in moving into a retirement home, and they are selling off everything. mrs. johnson goes and looks at all of the beautiful things that they have. the antiques and everything. and she buys a small tainted dish -- a divided dish. one or two other items as well, and she goes home beaming. the next day she goes back again, and i'm going to let her tell it in her voice. because after all, this is what will oral history really is. >> track number for. >> okay.
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>> [inaudible] >> [inaudible] [inaudible] >> [inaudible] >> [inaudible]
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>> [inaudible] >> what was your reaction? >> i was mad because i hadn't had to say so. >> [inaudible] >> okay, so you have a sense? >> one of the great quotes that i heard from ladybird johnson was about she would often go to the office. when you think about johnson come he was incredibly a hard task master and he could be incredibly difficult work for. one of the things the ladybird johnson said his that i've learned to behind him and say thank you. [applause]
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>> the people who work for them knew that you were just working for one of them. you were really working for both of them. for the most part, although he was difficult work for, he could be just impossible, most people really came out loving not only mrs. johnson, but president johnson as well. with one exception. kerry tells a great story. he tells a wonderful story about going back to all the people who work for lbj and collecting the great stories that they have of this titanic personality. and it was called the recollections project. they went to one of the aids for lbj and they are about to turn the microphone on. and he said to no one in particular, i just never liked the sop. he was the exception. the preponderance of folks ultimately love him.
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>> the ones that he insulted and put through the grill, he also then turned around and compensated with things like a brand-new lincoln, after insulting them publicly. so i would like to talk a little bit now about the more difficult years. first to reach back in the early years with mike and some of ladybird earlier recollections after their whirlwind courtship, which involve a great deal of persuasiveness on lbj's part two when he was running his very first federal program, which involved not only giving the youth of america future is in jobs, but involve the creation of a roadside park. >> yes, this was really an important step for lyndon johnson and mrs. johnson.
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because the people that work with lbj in the national youth administration. he was the director for texas that medial agency became the nucleus of his political organization for the rest of his life. those people were with him for the duration of his life, and they became mrs. johnson's dearest friends as well. but this was a job that gave him a statewide presence. it introduced him to important people all over this state. and it gave him an opportunity to show him what he could do. but it was also an incredibly demanding job to find and get employed a all of these young people who were unemployed. i have a one minute excerpt from this that i want to hear. this is track number two.
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>> you didn't have enough time? [inaudible] [laughter] >> we did not have enough time back then. [inaudible] i always felt it was significant. he did a significant job. >> [inaudible]
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>> [inaudible] >> i think i would've warned him about it and saw the other side of it. >> so she was in search of this significant idea if he was. she was very patient with a schedule that he kept. when she managed the congressional office while he was on active duty, that experience gave her an appreciation of how hard he had to work, and all the things he had to balance for the constituents that he served. >> thank you, yes, that was active dirty unkempt duty during world war ii. when he was in the navy, mark, speaking of war, could you please give us just a couple of minutes talk about the vietnam years and its effects on lbj and those around him? >> i think lbj was very reluctant about vietnam. he was ambivalent about it from the very beginning. i think that there are a couple of phone conversations.
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the crown jewel of the lbj library. 643 hours of recordings of his phone conversation. there are two in particular. to that really illuminate how he felt. the first was with richard russell, who i mentioned earlier, who had said, you know, if this burden were thrust on me, mr. president, i would decline to fight the war in vietnam. and it just seems like another thing and lbj said i have been thinking the same way ever since i came to office. and george bundy, his national security adviser, lbj talked about laying awake all night and thinking about the war. and he said that it is halting. he says what is beyond me? what is vietnam to this country?
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and he realizes. it is of no great consequence to the united states. it doesn't mean much. except for the fact that if you do not stave off communist insurgencies, there is a good possibility that the communists would take more grounded or embolden the chinese in other parts of the world. in effect, in keeping the insurgents at bay in vietnam, you are ultimately preventing world war iii and playing out. he was a student of the domino theory. not the theory that came out as the cold war emerged in the wake of world war ii, the domino theory that played out during world war ii and led to world war ii. the conscience of neville chamberlain, the prime minister of united the united kingdom, going to munich and striking an agreement with adolf hitler that
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he felt would bring peace in our time. well, that's not what happened at all. what happened is he got world war ii. one of the things that lbj says is, there will be no men with umbrellas, by which he is referring. he is not going to give into the communists. ultimately, vietnam does mean something and means something to lyndon johnson. >> thank you very much. we have run out of time for everything but your questions. i hope that all of you have been thinking about the questions that you want to ask. mr. michael gillette and mr. mark updegrove red can you please line up at the microphone. thank you. yes, sir? >> i was wondering, mark, if you could talk about what led to lbj's decision not to run a second time? >> yes, there is a misconception about that. it is because most people think he was embattled over the war. and that was more or less saying
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that i have had enough, i am calling it a day. in fact, he had made the decision not to run more or less in the summer of 1967. it wasn't because of the war at all, but because of him being conscious of the fact that the man and men in his family died early from heart disease. he himself had had a heart attack in 1955 at the age of 47, which sidelined him for almost six months. what he did not want to do with the nation through a health crisis. he had seen what happened when fdr died early into his fourth term in office. leaving harry truman all that unprepared to take on the burdens of the presidency. he knew what happened when woodrow wilson had fallen ill in the white house. he didn't want to do that to the country. and he could feel his heart every single day of the presidency like lead in his
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chest. so that was it, first and foremost. but after he came in 1968, he saw his not running again as a means by which to get the very reluctant ho chi minh to the peace table in order to bargain for honorable peace in vietnam. that is exactly what happened. several days after lbj said that he won't run for office by saying that famous statement that we all know, i will not accept the nomination for another term as the president. ho chi minh realizes that this is an overture from the president of the united states. and he agrees to meet with parties in paris to start peace negotiations. it was successful in that matter to yes? >> this is a question about the relationships between the two successive first ladies, jacqueline bouvier kennedy and labor johnson. i seem to remember, jackie
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kennedy referred to mrs. johnson is lyndon johnson's trained hunting dog at one point, to which i feel, i would rather have a trained hunting dog rather than a french poodle if you want to get something done. but there are many pictures of lyndon johnson and bill signing ceremonies. i'm wondering about that. >> mrs. johnson hosted a reception for the new senate wives in 1953 after the kennedys were married. mrs. kennedy certainly stood out as a glamorous and intelligent young cenobite. they knew each other a decade for the assassination.
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during the vice presidential period, mrs. johnson was asked to substitute for mrs. kennedy at events, dinners, receptions, teas, events, and she did so. i don't think they were close, personally, or socially, but they had inimical relationship. mrs. johnson visited the kennedy compound at hyannisport. we visited the kennedys in florida. i do think after the assassination, mrs. johnson made it a priority to ensure that the kennedy children had a chance to finish their schooling in the white house, to leave on their schedule from the white house. and to certainly finish
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mrs. kennedy's effort to furnish and equip the white house with art and antiques as she had done such a magnificent job of doing. this was a great recording for jacqueline kennedy. mrs. johnson think we carry that out. but they were too very different types of women, and this is johnson was much more actively involved in her husband's political career and jacqueline kennedy was. from the very beginning, really. >> this is also a wonderful story. someone was commiserating with the story, they were commiserating with ladybird after the assassination, saying, oh, you poor thing, and follow jackie kennedy as first lady. ladybird was just aghast at this. she said, oh, how can you possibly pity me? please, pity her, she doesn't have her husband. i still have mine. >> there is another way to look at that statement. it is attributed to mrs. kennedy.
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the fact that ladybird johnson was there and part of the campaign operation, was with him as much as she was, it made lyndon johnson even more dependent on her than he would have been otherwise. >> thank you. >> next question? >> okay. have you heard the phrase about there was no downtime for lyndon johnson? lyndon johnson became president when i was in the fourth grade. my fourth grade teacher went to college in southwest texas. and she might be the only person i have ever heard -- she said she would catch him sleeping in the halls of the old main building and then stop and start loafing around. maybe, you think he did this once in a while anyway? the map you know, the only accounts of him in the white house as when he had his eyes
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closed and was asleep. but he didn't do much loafing around in the white house. that's for sure. >> i don't think he did much loafing around after college. >> how about another question? the new one? >> please. please come to the >> this event took place at the 17th annual texas book festival in austin, texas. or more information about the festival visit texasbookfestival.org. >> book starts out with a combat mission in 2003. with a combat mission in 2003. north of the town and iraq. are you guys marines? no, okay. there was a marine unit that got cut off and the biggest
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sandstorm i've ever seen in my life had rolled in to saudi arabia and iraq, covered the whole time except for that wonderful little corner where we were. somebody had to get that underneath that stuff and try to save these parades are so that's what the book opens with. i talk a little bit about history and most of what i did, i was a wild weasel. does anyone know what that is? you guys are air force, right? cadets? no, okay, good. you've already been there done that. >> i was a wild weasel. a wild weasel is very unique and screwy kind of person. whose job in life is to go and get shot at by anti-aircraft missile. and if you survive, when you survive, you go back around and you remove those threats so they don't bother anybody else. i'm not going to china but the first guy said when asked him to do this i can get done. you can read about in the book. mixed company and youngsters i won't go into that.
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but it's really a screw each other. and that's most of what i did. i talk about the history of how all that came to pass. it's not a textbook. whenever i like to learn without knowing that i'm learning. you guys ever read bill bryson's books? i love his books because i learned a lot and i did know i learned anything. that's kind of what i try to do with his. defeats in history and then you start out with what happened when i was commissioned as lieutenant and kind of the process is that it takes to become a pilot. than the fighter pilot after that. talk a little bit about in the first gulf war, there's some funny things in there, too. you know, it's hard not to spend 20 years doing something without some funny things. my first combat mission was a very for a long day that culminate in the officer's club, in turkey. there's some amusing stories in the. won't ruin the book for you. and then i did an exchange two
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with the egyptian air force for year and a half. i had to go off to school and learn how to speak arabic and to learn about them and how they think and how they operate. got to go to that for you, which was pretty interesting. put a check in there about the called fly like an egyptian. anybody here old enough to remember the egyptian -- okay, good. walk like an egyptian. anyway, again, some amusing anecdotes in that year that i spend, some not so amusing. i think it opens with the morning when i was doing a test flight, and as soon as i wrapped the airplane up into a climb thinking how cool is this, the engine quit and it was suddenly not so cool anymore for those 50 seconds it took me to get the airplane back down on the ground. so that's kind of funny. i will tell you how that went into the i'm sitting there on the ground and it catches up with me. and i start to sweat a little bit. i'm grateful to be back down on the ground.
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this is an, this egyptian peasant walks across the runway. on a u.s. airbase, it is lockdown patent in fort knox. you don't get an air base, much less on the flight line without all the pieces of plastic and everything uzbeks live not expecting to see this peasant qaeda plot along in front of my airplane. he was 20 feet in front of the jet leading a donkey. i thought what am i doing your? the donkey probably relieved himself right in front of your point of both kind of shook her head at me and walked off. so there's some funny things like that. basically traces the path of at least my path as a fighter pilot. i came back from egypt. i've been overseas for six years, with a good life. i lived in europe. you guys are in a military you know you get to travel. you get to do things. it's on to a lot of neat things you don't normally see. used to keep a horse by the pyramids. how cool is that to good writing
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and look over and see the pyramids? but i wanted to come home. i hadn't had a son under in country and country country in -- sonic burger and a longtime. i got to attend the fighter weapons school which is the air force version of the navy school. i'd already done the navy school, kind of abbreviated exchange. but it was okay but they are not half of what we are. you guys are air force lieutenants, right? okay, good. nevermind the football game today. that's irrelevant. the whole taking off and landing on a carrier thing, they can keep your it was a good school but it wasn't anything like ours. hours it's six months long and utterly miserable. i mean, i came out of that, a changed human being. some say for the better. i lost almost all of my cockiness. quite a few tailfeathers. then spend the next decade being a weapons and tactics officer at
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different levels in the fighter wing. i was at khobar towers when the police blew up. do you guys are member that? you may not want to sit too close to me because i'm always at the wrong place at the runtime. yeah, i was there when the police blew up. you know, we hadn't really, i don't any of us were thinking about terrorism than the way that it is thought of now. it wasn't something we were prepared to fight. we were geared up, my generation was queued up to fight the soviet union, you know. i asked my teenage daughter, she said, what's wrong with russia? i said it's not russia, the soviet union. she said once that? that it was a big thing back there in the late '80s and early 90s before it toppled. we were geared up to fight in the most of us had never really considered iraq on yahoo! saddam hussein was. and after that war was over, which when he was a foregone conclusion. the terrorism thing took us all by surprise but we just thought
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they were gravel rows, never give them too much credit. all the buildings at khobar towers were built by the bin laden construction company. they have the bin laden stands and all the -- how's that for irony? but after that things kind of change. the world trade center bombings and september 11, of course we all know what happened that day. i was actually flying that morning. we had come back from the middle east from another rotation. monday, september 10 was her first day back. and the morning of september 11 i was actually falling, and i've come down very, very early, and somebody said you've got to look at this. i've been everything as i looked at that first tower burning, what kind of a more on of the pilots could hit a tower that size on a clear day? i thought it was an accident. and then the second plane hit, and we obviously figure that out. they sent a bunch of us up to close down airspace over the training and to talkut